24 September 2016

Into the chasm

It is no secret that the American electorate is a tad divided in the run up to the presidential election. The division is everywhere but its starkest, darkest, and ugliest side is most evident on the Interwebs. Earlier this week, I got an up close and personal tour of the dark side.

Earlier this week, on the morning of my birthday, a Tweet comparing refugees to a bowl of Skittles by the eldest son of the Republican presidential candidate was trending. It caught my attention and I Tweeted my own response. Here's what I said:

Thank you @DonaldTrumpJr for reminding us how little regard you 
have for humanity. Like father, like son.

Snarky, yes, but it was my honest reaction, a reaction by the way that I was under the impression I was allowed to have. I really thought nothing more of it until my notifications started to blow up. Apparently, I'd struck a nerve with the more extreme residents of Trumplandia in my tiniest corner of the Twittersphere. Nearly 25,000 impressions and engagements, plus hundreds of likes and retweets of that Tweet later, I'd been drop kicked into a hate-filled chasm. Here are a few highlights from the responses that came my way:

F*!$ off
I should be subject to violent anal rape (I toned that one down but apparently this is a favorite line of attack, or variant of the same theme, by Trumplandians. See this from Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank)
I am an ISIS supporter
I am a feminist and an abortionist, or at least an abortion supporter (I'm not quite sure how that leap was made)
I am illiterate
I need to study English more because I do not know what an analogy is (I guess I should sue my alma mater then for failing me when I was awarded an English degree)
I am an SJW (Social Justice Warrior - I didn't know what that was so I had to look that one up)
Muslims and Syrians are not human
I should pray that my church isn't bombed by refugees this Sunday
I was asked where I lived so that refugees could be sent to my home to poison me and my family
I have no right to speak 

Fun, right? 

There were some telling things as I fell into the chasm. In almost poetic move to prove that I was an SJW, one of the Tweeters went into my blog and linked to a post I wrote in April of this year about women being assaulted by anonymous Twitter trolls as proof. Irony alert - that was posted by an anonymous Twitterer. While my blog is mostly personal, I've written about issues that are important to me including gun violence, rape, and a few other hot button issues. But the issue that makes me an SJW? Speaking out against the abuse of women on Twitter. That speaks volumes. Irony alert - being told I have no right to speak. That one killed me. Being told by those who shout from the rooftops about protecting their rights that I have no right to speak was rich. Thanks to the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, I have as much right to speak as any one else in this country.

What is most telling is the fear, or the bigotry masquerading as fear. I don't go to church on a weekly basis convinced that my place of worship is going to be bombed. Nor do I fear that a family of refugees is going to poison me, in spite of the wishes that it would happen that came my way.  I can't live with that kind of fear. Not everyone who is not a WASP is hell-bent on destruction. Really, they're not.

My trip into the chasm of hate on the Interwebs was short-lived. It was instructive, disturbing, and revealing. It speaks volumes about the divide and the fear in this country. To live with that kind of fear / bigotry is in the word of the Republican presidential candidate, "Sad!"

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